Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wealth Creation

 As I talk about improving in all areas of life, there is one area I'm sure that all of us wish we could improve in: money. Money is sometimes seen as the great evil, but all of us admittedly wouldn't mind having more of it. In order to succeed with money, we must first change our view of finances.

Firstly, money is not evil. More money simply gives you more opportunity. You can use money to do good (like donating it to charity) or to do evil (like buying yourself something that may be harmful to you).

Secondly, wealth can be created out of thin air. Read that again. Yes, wealth can be created out of virtually nothing. "How?" you ask. By taking resources that you have and improving upon them, you add value (i.e. wealth) to the world.

Let's say you have a bucket of sand. It's pretty worthless. You can basically get sand anywhere on earth. However, if you are a micro-chip engineer, with the right equipment, you can turn that sand (and other materials) into micro-chips. The micro-chips are worth more than the materials that you made it with, so you can sell them and make a profit. Don't miss what is happening here, you didn't steal someone's money or swindle anyone. You created something that benefited someone, and they benefited you by paying you. Yes I'm aware that micro-chip manufacture and sales is far more complex than this example, but it's the principle: you have created wealth. Wealth is anything of value, the chip is more valuable to us than the sand. You have added value to the world.

So here's the take home from this: don't look at your job as a "necessary evil". If you are blessed enough to have a job in this economy, look at it as a way to add value to the world... and get paid for it! Now let me take this concept of creating wealth one step further. Wealth is also defined as having more money than you need. Once you have more than you need, you are not just struggling to survive financially, and you can use that extra money to do good things like philanthropy. I understand that this will sound like a distant dream to many, myself included. Also, like the ancient Greeks, you can become wealthy enough to spend more time in other pursuits (like intellectual growth). Expand your horizons, make yourself better, and add value to yourself.

Since you pay money for goods and services, it is safe to say that you can create wealth by making products or providing services. Let's say I buy some canvas-paper and paints (cheap items). Now, lets imagine even farther from reality and pretend that I am a talented artist. As an artist of great skill, I use the materials that I have bought so inexpensively, and create a great masterpiece. Let's say that a rich patron likes my masterpiece and pays me for it. She has traded me from her abundance, for something she valued. She would rather have the painting, and I (the struggling artist) would rather have the money. Do you see how everyone wins?!

In one final analogy, let's say that I'm unemployed (which would be accurate to say). Let's say that you ask me to mow your lawn, and I agree to do it for 40 bucks an acre. I work hard in the sun, and when the job is done you are happy and pay me my money. You value the cut lawn more than whatever amount you wound up paying me.

So wealth is created by improving the world around us using creativity, ingenuity, and hard work. However, the key is intelligence. Knowledge is what separates us from our ancestors. As a society we have accumulated more scientific knowledge than our ancestors had. We are building on what they learned. Human intelligence is what gives us advancements in technology which add value to the world and improve society.

Humankind as a whole is wealthier than it was only fifty years ago. How so? Well for one example, more than 6 billion out of the 7 billion people in the world own cell phones. Cell phones didn't even exist fifty years ago, but we have invented them and made them affordable enough for even the poorest people. Today those in the lower economic class have luxuries that the richest people in centuries past wouldn't even have dreamed of.

On top of all of this, the potential wealth that can be created is virtually unlimited. Things left to themselves will decay. This in the phenomenon of entropy. We can reverse this decay by adding value to the world. This can only be done by applying intelligence to create wealth.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


In the process of learning, as we seek knowledge, we will take in lot's of information (either true or false). The trick then in distinguishing between true and false information. Our life-long goal for our mind is this: to gain as many true beliefs as possible and rid yourself of as many false beliefs as possible. For this it may be helpful to understand philosophy, particularly inductive and deductive reasoning. (I hope to write about the two forms of reasoning in a future post.)

One of the best ways to tell an idea is true, is to compare that idea to it's antithesis or to opposing ideas. It's a process called cross-examining. It happens to be the same method we use in court. One side gives their argument, and then the other side gives their argument with rebuttals to their opponent.

We tend to be biased toward whatever side we hear first, which is what Proverbs 18:17 talks about. But as verse 13 and 17 (and good common sense) show us: we ought to listen to the other side!

Here are three steps for Cross-examining
  1. Once you are convinced of something, seek out the best arguments you can find on the other side.  (suspend your disbelief)
  2. If you change your mind, go back and seek out the best arguments for the original side again.
  3. Eventually you will read the opposing arguments and see all the errors.

The truth matches reality. Lies are simply fabricated, and they will eventually fall apart under examination and won’t make sense anymore.

Here are five tips that a teacher of mine gave me:

  1. Think logically and recognize illogical assertions.
  2. Be open minded without being empty headed.
  3. Be critical without being skeptical.
  4. The only thing worth your allegiance is that which is true.
  5. Don’t be passive, be active, seek out new (and old) information.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Intellect- Seeking Knowledge

(Proverbs 18:15) An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Whether or not you believe the Bible, I think we can agree on the importance of seeking knowledge. Intelligence is all about seeking knowledge: looking to learn new things. Learning should be active, not passive.

Not only should you seek to learn and memorize new facts, but also seek to understand deeper concepts. Very rarely do you ever learn something without seeking to understand it. Learning is mental exercise, which grows your mind.

So seek out new information, seek to learn new things. Education itself will improve your IQ. Reading educational books is a fantastic way to improve your intelligence. The average person doesn't read a single non-fiction book after graduating from school. However, the average millionaire reads a book a month. Not that reading more books will make you a millionaire, but it can't hurt your success. Find a subject you'd like to learn about, and read a book about it. Taking classes (and paying attention in the classes you are in) can help as well.

There has been plenty written on how to improve your IQ, you can simply google it. My purpose here is to write briefly on how I have been improving in this area (particularly by reading books).
Also I have found that keeping your body in shape can help to improve your brain power.

Monday, June 1, 2015


As we talk about growing in all areas of life, I believe that religion is the foundation for all the other areas. (By religion I mean one’s core beliefs and practices.) My purpose in this post is not to convince skeptics and atheists; but rather to speak to seekers, theists, and Christians about the importance of Christianity. You see, I can accel in all the areas, I can be successful in my life, but one day everything I’ve done will fade into oblivion.

Let me submit to you, many religions put emphasis on the afterlife, because we humans have this inner sense that there must be something after this life. Is there an afterlife? Or is this life all there is? If there is an afterlife, what will it be like? If there is a heaven/paradise, how do I get there? It is important to get those answers, because eternity is… well, forever.

The first video is written as if it is a letter from God to humanity. It does a very good job of explaining the Christian worldview. The second one explains (more clearly) what the Bible says about how to get into heaven.

(John 8:31) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

A true follower of Christ abides (lives) in the word of God. We must be studying it (Acts 17:11 and 2 Tim 2:15), by ourselves and with others, and we must do what it says (James 1:22). I recommend starting with one of the gospels, the epistles, or the book of Proverbs.

We often define success by our accomplishments, position, amount of wealth, or popularity. However, for a Christian, success is defined by faithfulness. God has given us everything: brain, body, money, job, relationships. Are we being faithful in using those things the way that he wants us to? We may not be perfect, nor will we be perfect, but do we pursue perfection? Just as Paul pursued the perfection in Christ (Philippians 3:12-14), do we have the ambition to pursue perfection.

When first saw that trailer of the movie Limitless, I was very inspired by all the cool things that Eddie Morra did (although I was very leary of the idea of taking a drug to get that result). So, instead I prayed. Maybe I did it out of selfishness at first (I wanted to be rich and own the nice sports cars). I wanted to be successful in the world’s way. I have realized that it is better to be faithful with what God has given me. Then I will be successful in His eyes.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Your Beliefs Affect Your Behavior


What do you believe? In the six areas of life, what you believe is the foundation for all the other areas. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be religious, the area of belief includes your personal attitudes, philosophical views, political views, and more. Your beliefs shape how you think and act, and they shape your attitude and how you see the world around you.

Now we all have different beliefs and views, but it is important to listen to others. Even if you don’t agree with everything they believe, you can still learn from them.

Presuppositions are basic foundational assumptions which affect how we see the world. How do you answer the big questions? Is there a God? What does it mean to be human? Where did we come from? Where are we going? How do we determine what is right and wrong? How you answer these questions will certainly impact how you think.

These presuppositions affect our behavior too. If I subscribed to the philosophy of hedonism, I would live my life for the sole purpose of seeking pleasure. If I believed in the JudeoChristian God I might be more careful to follow the commands in the Bible. If I were convinced of a religion, I would be devoutly practicing that religion. If I were unsure, I might not practice that religion wholeheartedly.

As we listen to different ideas from different people, we can follow the words of Carl Sagan.

"If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones." - Carl Sagan.

As a friend of mine used to say: “Be neither gullible nor skeptical, but critical: analyzing and carefully judging each idea. Only accept the ideas that are true.”

So it is important to examine what you believe. It is important to believe the truth and live by it. Remember, whatever you believe, there is never any point in believing a lie.   I am writing this blog from the perspective of a Christian. Once again, you may not agree with everything I say and believe, but you can still read this blog and learn something from it. I was raised Christian, but there was a time when I had to decide for myself whether or not I believed Christianity is the truth. In a future post I may talk about critiquing one’s beliefs. In the next post I want to talk about what it means to be a Christian.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


"Not many of us know what it's like to become the perfect version of ourselves."- Eddie Morra.

Those words, uttered by Bradley Cooper's character in the 2011 Limitless, stuck with me. It was before the movie had even come out. The trailer was all that it took to inspire me. The movie was about slacker Eddie Morra, a writer, who was going nowhere in his life. Maybe I identified with him because I wanted to be a writer. Maybe it was because I was stuck in a rut in my life when I watched that trailer, but the concept that the trailer presented inspired me: being the perfect version of yourself.

In the movie, Eddie takes a pill that enhances his mental capacity. It allows him to think and learn super fast, and even access his most obscure memories. Due to his increased mental capacity, Eddie begins to expand in all areas. He gets fit, finishes his book, gets into stock marketing, gets rich, and gets his life straight. He even runs for Congress. (None of this is a spoiler, but I am not endorsing the movie either. Especially not as a family movie. I simply want to highlight the tag line, and the concept of growing in all areas of life.)

Take a minute to imagine what it would be like to improve in all areas of your life. What would it be like to be the best version of yourself? What would you do with a higher IQ or more knowledge? What if you were actually as healthy as you wish you could be? What could you do if you understood the influence you have on others? What if you could have your dream job and if money were no problem? Perfection in five of the core areas of life: intellectual, physical, social, occupational and financial.

Take a minute to imagine that, and then I need you to snap back to reality. Sadly, I must inform you, we will never reach perfection. However, that does not mean we shouldn't try to improve. For anyone who has studied the history of western civilization, you might remember the Greek value called "arete", which is the pursuit of perfection. We may never reach perfection, but let us continue to improve in all areas of life. This year I want to focus on six of them.

1.Religion- if you are not religious, there is still stuff in my blog for you, so hold on. This area could be as simple as your philosophical "presuppositions" or your view of life. How do you answer the big questions? I will explain how this area affects everything else we do in my next post, so stay with me. Religion can also include any religious practices, such as praying or meeting with other believers.
2.Intellect- of course I can understand how an atheist may want to include religion (presuppositions) in this category. What information is in your head? How much of the information is true? How much is false? How well does your brain work? What is your ability to think and reason, figure things out, and memorize them? Can you think critically? How do you ask the right questions? This area is arguably the most important. You need your intellect to choose your idealogical path, to know how to keep yourself healthy, to improve in your career, and so forth.
3.Occupation- this area is about more than employment, it's about what you do with your time.  On one end of the spectrum is your hobby, which benefits you, and probably only you. In the center of the spectrum, your job is about mutual benefit: you provide people with a product or service that they want or need, and they give you money (which you want or need). On the other end there is volunteer work: work that you do for others with little or no benefit for yourself.
4.Finances- Now don't let anyone make you feel guilty about this. Money is not evil! We all could use more money, but you don't want to choose money over people. "People are made to be loved and things are made to be used. The confusion in this world is that people are being used and things are being loved." With more money you can donate more money, you can spend more money (which keeps people in their jobs), and you can have nice things for yourself. So it's important to work hard (but not too much) to make money, and also to be able to manage the money that you make.
5.Social- because what good is a life without friends. You can be religious, you can be the smartest, you can be the healthiest or the wealthiest, but without friends life is depressing. Not only that, but we all have influence over the people we interact with... just by default. What kind of influence are you on others? Good? Bad? Or one they could do without?
6.Health- as I've stated before this area is not my strongest suit, but it's still important so I'm still going to tackle it. You only have one body, so we must take care of what we've been given.

I want this blog to be all about wisdom, and this year particularly about growing in all areas of life. Naturally we will have one or two areas that we excel in, and it's good to have a specialization. However, while we improve in our specialties, we must also grow and improve in other areas. So if you are interested in pursuing perfection for yourself, join me on this journey.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Setting Goals

Why set goals?
Why should you set goals? This blog series is about many things, but it is chiefly about rising above mediocrity. Whether you live an average or above average life, I want to inspire and encourage you to continue growing in your life. Always continue to move forward in life. That is why we set goals: to challenge ourselves to move forward.

We all have dreams. Even if we forget about them, don't talk about them, or suppress them, we still have them. What are your dreams? What are the things you wish you could do? Take a minute and think about them.

Some are skeptical of this talk about dreams, and they have good reason to be. Many people take this stuff too far. You must have a dose of realism in this subject. You cannot fly! I am not selling some idea that you can do anything if you just believe. That being said, I think that you and I can do more than we give ourselves credit for.

Dreams are like clouds in the sky, and your goals are like a ladder to get you to them (or closer to them). Goals are more realistic than dreams, and each goal accomplished is a step up the ladder, closer to your dream. This post is based largely off of a chapter of EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey. The second chapter is all about setting goals, and it has become a huge part of my life these past couple of years. The book is on being a leader and an entrepreneur. If this post, or leadership in general, interests you I would highly recommend the book. (http://www.daveramsey.com/store/prodentre.html?ictid=elbookpg)

Wheel of Life
Another theme in my life right now (which will also be a big part of this blog series) is growing in all areas of life. What are the different areas of life? I don't believe there is an exhaustive list. However, the book lists seven areas that Zig Ziglar calls the "wheel of life". This wheel has seven spokes: Career, Financial, Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Family, and Social. I have my own list, which is a bit different.
  1. Religion/Spiritual- your fundamental beliefs and practices
  2. Academic/Intellectual- knowledge is power! (or at least it's helpful)
  3. Health/Physical- taking care of your body
  4. Occupational- what you do with your time: hobby, job, or volunteer
  5. Social- your relationship with others*
  6. Financial- managing your money
*I include family inside the social spoke, although I can understand where some might want to keep them separate.

I will go in depth on each of these "spokes" in later posts. Remember, in this wheel of life, if you leave one side of the wheel flat – you have a flat tire. We all have one or two areas that we are good at, and we also have one or two areas that make us cringe. "Well that area is not important," we tell ourselves.

On the contrary, each area is important. We may have one or two area that we are proficient in, but it is important to grow in each area. Religion is your fundamental presuppositions about life. How do you answer the big questions? Is there a God? What is the nature of man? Where did we come from? We must think carefully about these questions, as they will impact how we see everything else, and how we act. The intellectual spoke is important because no one wants to be seen as an idiot. Therefore we must be constantly learning and thinking (deeply) in order to keep our minds sharp. The intellectual area is probably the easiest area for me, with an interest that bleeds into the spiritual area.

Conversely, the physical aspect has been my least favorite, but I am getting better. There are plenty of reasons for keeping physically fit, but for me the main reason is that improved health can also improve memory and thinking skills (http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110). I think most people don't realize that a career is not just important for a paycheck, but also to provide mutual benefit between yourself and society. Also it is important to have and manage your money, because more money isn't good or evil, it simply means having more opportunities. I will cover each of these spokes in later posts.

Goals must have four things in order to work
New Year's Eve is the time where we make promises to improve ourselves, which we never actually keep. Why? Well, I believe that our resolutions are missing a few things. This year, instead of making vague promises you will never keep, set specific goals, to really improve yourself.

I have been doing this for a couple years now, so I can say from experience: the more seriously you take this, the more you will get out of it. Set new goals every year. Then each month set new goals within your annual goals. Then within that, set new goals for that week.

Goals that work must...

1. Be specific and measurable
If you say "This year, I resolve to lose weight", it's not the same as saying "I'm going to lose ten pounds this upcoming year". The first statement is vague. How much weight are you going to lose? You could lose a milligram and meet your goal, then just gain it back for lunch. No real change has been made. Your goals must be specific if you want to move forward.
2. Have a time limit
So you want to lose ten pounds? That's not specific enough. Adding a time limit helps make them more specific. It also helps you stay focused. Let's say you want to lose 120 pounds this year. You can set a goal to lose ten pounds each month, and one-third of a pound every day.
Of course these numbers are simply for example, but are you beginning to see how being specific makes your outrageous dreams into feasible goals?
3. Be your own goals
It must be your own goal. Not one that someone else set for you. It must be something you want to do (even for someone else), not something that someone else wants you to do. I've made the mistake of setting goals for other people... I don't think they ever kept my goals for them. "My wife wants me to lose weight," is not the right mentality to have, "I want to lose weight for my wife," is better. It is nice to do things for others, but if you live your whole life on what others want you to do, you will be miserable.
4. Be in writing
This one is probably the simplest, but most overlooked. A study by the Dominican University (http://cdn5.sidsavara.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/researchsummary2.pdf) shows that you are significantly more likely to accomplish your goals if you write them down. This is supported by common sense. I believe there are two reasons. First, if you don't write them down you will forget about them. Our memories are simply fickle like that. Second, it serves as a powerful visual reminder. I have my goals written on an excel spreadsheet, which I review every week to check off. I also have a list of daily goals on my phone. I erase each goal as I accomplish them. When you check off or erase goals, it motivates you, because you can visualize your progress!

So there you have it. Now set some resolutions (I mean goals) which you will actually keep this year. Make sure you are setting your own goals, that they are things you actually want to do. If you can, set goals in all six areas of life. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, and have a time limit on them. Then, write your goals down.